Basketball is one of the most enjoyable indoor and outdoor sports there is. Whether you play casually or professionally, though, you might like to enhance your warm-up routine with a little music. This is why most pro-NBA players wear their favorite pair of headphones out on the court before a big game. It allows you to get in your zone and set the right energy for the big game ahead.
In this guide, we will take a look at some of the best headphones for basketball, filter through the countless models out there, and compare them to one another. Further down, I will give you all the information you will need to be able to make an educated choice on a new pair of headphones that will help you stay focused on the court!
Best Overall – Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones
It comes as no surprise that some of the best headphones for playing any type of sport is made by beats. This company has been focusing on basketball players since its very beginning. Lebron James is known for wearing them on and off the basketball court but there is more to them than just endorsement deals. The Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones actually bring a ton of value to the table and have superb sound quality and performance for a great basketball warm-up session.
One of the main appeals of these particular headphones from Beats is that they are cheaper than usual without plenty of sacrifices. Instead, they bring all the familiar bass-rich sound features to the middle price class and dominate there. If I have to find any disadvantages worth pointing out it is that they are one of the few over-ear headphones on this list. This makes them slightly bulkier and heavier than the rest. It also makes them slightly less-than-ideal for warmer outdoor basketball games since their pads are bigger than normal and will definitely sweat up your head.
The headphones come in one size fits all configuration and you can pick between 7 different color options. As a whole, their construction is sturdy, you get a nice carrying case, and the sound is rich in lows and has decent mids and highs. While there is plenty of competition in this price class, these remain a solid choice.
- Decent value
- Plenty of style options
- Excellent bass-rich sound
- Good quality
- Durable construction
- Great for indoor warm-ups
- Can be a bit more expensive than some other similar models
- They are bulkier and heavier than most on-ear headphones
- Not ideal for hot days
Best On-Ear – Adidas RPT-01 Bluetooth Sport On-Ear Headphones
Continuing our stay in the mid-price class, the Adidas RPT-01 Bluetooth Sport On-Ear Headphones give you a better and smaller alternative than most over-ear headphones like the Beats Studio3. Not only do these come at a bargain price but they are also geared quite a lot towards outdoor training and various sports like basketball. Their construction is one of the sturdiest here all the while allowing plenty of flexibility. The headband and the speakers are wrapped in a knitted fabric that will take care of excess moisture on your head. Both the earmuffs and the inner headband are washable, which is something most other headphones don’t have.
The RPT-01s are also IPX4 rated meaning they can officially handle plenty of sweating when you play with them. They also have one of the best battery lives on this list. When fully charged, they can last you up to 40 hours of continuous playtime. You control the music or your calls from the control knob on the side. The headphones connect via Bluetooth 5.0 with both Android and iOS devices seamlessly. Them being on-ear is actually preferred by most players since it reduces their weight, keeps them small and compact, and makes them easier to wear for long periods without heating up your ears or the area around them.
The sound here isn’t as rich on lows as some Beats headphones but it is nicely balanced, obviously geared more towards techno and pop music with high mids and rich highs. You can order these headphones in three different colors and they all look extremely unique thanks to their knitted frame design. All in all, if you’re looking for a solid pair of on-ear headphones from a brand known for their sports products, these are it.
- Unique design
- Good value for your money
- Come in three colors
- Rich sound
- IPX4 rated
- Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
- Up to 40 hours of continuous playtime
- Can feel a bit too small with adults with large heads
- They can have issues staying on your head during dynamic exercises
- There can be some connectivity issues with older phones
Best In-Ear – JBL Reflect Mini 2 Wireless In-Ear Sport Headphones
If you’re not a fan of on-ear or over-ear headphones, then you must be looking for a solid pair of in-ear headphones like the JBL Reflect Mini 2. These are some of the highest-selling in-ear sport headphones currently on the market and there are a ton of good reasons for that. Of course, one of the best reasons people love these is because they are simply too affordable to pass on. When you compare them to the prices of most on-ear headphones, these can be three times cheaper without offering sacrifice in audio quality of sports performance. In fact, these are much more stable in your ears when you’re playing basketball and have basically no chance of falling on the ground when you’re playing. The reason for that is their unique design that fits in most earlobes. The headphones come with four sets of ergonomic ear tips that are all made out of flexible silicone. These patented Freebie enhancers work to sort of make the headphones stuck in your ear. That way, they won’t fall even if you quick lateral motions with your head, which isn’t uncommon in basketball.
It is worth mentioning that these aren’t what the industry refers to as “true” wireless earbuds. The reason for that is because there is a connective cord between the two earbuds. However, that may be seen as an advantage as they are much easier to take off your ears for a while and are much harder to lose or drop on the ground when you’re training. On that cord, you also have the remote control keys which allow you to change songs and control the volume levels. Speaking of the volume, these get relatively loud, even for in-ear headphones. Their sound is well-balanced with a slight increase in basses.
Unfortunately, these don’t come in different color options and they rely on their flexible ear tips in order to fit most people. Also, their battery life is nowhere near as good as the one of the Adidas or Beats headphones. On a full charge, they can typically last you around 8-10 hours, depending on the volume levels. They connect to most devices via Bluetooth 3.0. As a whole, for this price, these are the best in-ear headphones you can get for playing basketball.
- Excellent price
- Secure fit
- Excellent sound quality
- Rich basses
- Very hard to fall off
- Excellent for dynamic workouts
- Come with multiple ear tips and a carrying case
- No official IP rating
- Relatively short battery life
- No color options
- Can irritate your ear canal if you wear them constantly
Best Battery Life – JBL Endurance Peak True Wireless Earbuds
One direct competitor to the JBL Reflect Mini 2 from the same brand is the JBL Endurance Peak. These True wireless buds have plenty of features that give them a slight edge over the Reflect Mini 2 but there are also a few downsides that might make people reconsider. One of the most notable differences between the two models is in their design. The Endurace Peaks are what we call “true” wireless earbuds meaning that they don’t require any physical connection between them or your device in order to work and play music in your ears. While this makes them more comfortable to put in and out, it also makes them easier to fall off your ears and on the ground.
The main feature of these headphones is their battery life. They are one of the in-ear headphones with the highest battery life out there. They can last up to 28 hours on a full charge and even more if you listen on medium volume. There is a caveat to that, though. Most of that battery life is located in their carrying case which charges them when you put them inside. On their own, the headphones only have 4 hours of continuous playtime which is quite disappointing. However, you can charge them 7 times over in the carrying case. The case is also quite durable and protects the headphones from any type of damage when they aren’t on your ears. Another thing that you might not like about these is that they are bulkier than the Reflect Mini 2. While they grab your ear relatively tightly, you can feel their bulkiness when they’re on.
There are a few extra features here that are worth mentioning. For once, there is a built-in microphone on the headphones that perform relatively well under perfect conditions. The headphones are also IPX7 waterproof which means that they can also be submerged into water for a brief period if you drop them somewhere. They also come in three different colors – black, blue, and red, with the case matching the color of the headphones.
- Good price
- Three color options
- Fit your ears tightly
- IPX7 waterproof
- Come with a carrying/charging case
- Combined battery life of 28 hours
- Quick Charge
- Work with iOS and Android
- Can feel a bit bulky
- The built-in microphone isn’t always working properly
- There are some connectivity issues sometimes
- The sound isn’t stellar
Best Budget – Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 On-Ear Sport Headphones
If you’re looking for a budget pair of on-ear headphones, then the Plantronics Backbeat Fit 500 is the right product for you. These are the headphones with one of the best price-to-value ratios on the market mainly due to to their cheap price tag and surprisingly good performance. For that reason, you might see them quite often on the indoor and outdoor basketball courts. The headphones pack 40mm drivers on both sides putting out decently rich mids and lows with above-average highs. Thanks to their deeper cups, there is also an acoustic effect in the sound that will make it easier to listen for longer periods of time. This cannot be said for most in-ear headphones.
The earcups and the headband are relatively durable but the most important feature of theirs is that they are padded with memory foam. Not only are these headphones lightweight but they are also very comfortable on your head, no matter the size. They can last up to 18 hours and have both wireless and wired listening options. They can also connect to two devices at the same time and can store up to 8 paired devices in their memory. There is also a wideband-enabled mic that allows you to take calls and use different smartphone assistants. As a whole, if there was a deal that was a great bang for your buck, this would be the first thing that pops in my head!
- Great price
- Comfortable headband and earcups
- 40mm drivers
- Decent sound
- 18 hours of battery
- Built-in mic
- Can pair with up to 8 devices
- Sweat resistant
- The sound can be better
- Has connectivity issues
- The headband can break if stretched too much
Best Waterproof – Jaybird X4 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
The Jaybird X4 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones for Sport Fitness and Running are one of the most popular wireless models on the market right now. They are used by runners, cyclists, basketball players, and all other people who enjoy their sports while listening to music. The main appeal of these headphones is their superb build quality, their excellent sound quality, and the fitment they provide.
The construction of the Jaybirds X4 is IPX7 rated, meaning it can be used in all weather conditions and can survive even dropping them in water. Their battery is also quite decent, providing you with 8 hours of battery life, and takes about 2 hours to fully charge which isn’t the fastest recharge time we’ve seen. Still, the headphones connect fast with most devices out there and have a range of around 33ft. Without a doubt, their main feature is the proper fitment they provide. Their thermo-reactive tips provide an incredibly soft fit without getting in the way of the rich sound that comes from the headphone’s drivers. On the Jaybird app, you can even control the EQ of the headphones in order to adjust them to your exact taste. Since they aren’t true wireless earbuds, they have a physical connection between them. This makes them even more suitable for basketball games as they won’t easily fall out. One of their main drawbacks is that, although a good value for their money, they are a bit expensive, especially when compared to some in-ear JBL models.
- IPX7 waterproof
- Great design
- Durable construction
- Have their own EQ
- Come in two color combinations
- Rich sounds
- Stay in your ears during workouts
- Recharges slowly
- The battery life isn’t stellar
- A bit expensive
Basketball Headphones Buyer’s Guide
In this section of the article, we will take a look at all the various things that come into play when you’re choosing a new pair of basketball headphones. First, you will have to consider the headphones type which plays a major role in comfort, sound quality, and practicality. The type of headphones will also play a role in your budget, as most over-ear headphones tend to be on the expensive side of the spectrum. After that, we will discuss the features that you will need to look for and compare in different models in order to ensure you’re getting the most value for your money. Now, let’s get into this!
Types of Headphones for Basketball
When choosing a new pair of headphones, in general, you will have to consider all the various types out there. Most of the time, headphones can be divided into two groups – wireless (Bluetooth) or wired. While wired headphones have their advantages, such as better sound quality, they are rarely good for training with. The obvious reason for that is because their wire can often get in the way and take the headphones down. For that reason, we will mostly focus on wireless headphones that use Bluetooth or other types of special connectivity with their devices. These types of headphones can be divided in:
- Over-ear headphones
- On-ear headphones
- In-ear headphones
Over-ear basketball headphones are one of the biggest models out there. Despite their bulkiness, however, they are super comfortable and lay flat on your head, surrounding the whole ear. Some people prefer these over on-ear headphones mainly for that specific reason – they don’t actually touch the ear. This makes the easier to wear over longer periods of time and it also makes them a bit more stable when you’re playing ball.
Another advantage of these headphones is that they create a very good seal around your ear. This prevents any noise from going out or getting in. What that means is that their noise cancellation or noise enhancement features are typically on par with the ones of in-ear headphones. Durability-wise, they are often water and dustproof but are much easier to drop from your head, making them more prone to potential damage, especially when compared to in-ear models. Their biggest advantage by far is the sound quality. Thanks to their size, they can fit larger speakers (30-40mm or bigger) into the body of the headphone. This allows for superb audio quality with great lows, mids, and highs. On the other hand, all that extra size and sound quality come at a price, and these are often the most expensive headphones out there.
On-ear headphones are the next best thing if you want something with bigger speaker sizes and decent comfort that doesn’t get inside your ear. They feature a similar design to over-ear headphones but are usually much smaller and lay directly on your ear. This makes them slightly less comfortable but some people still prefer that. The reason for that is because they are lighter, more agile, and they put less strain on your ears. They also allow external noises to get in, making them good for the outdoor basketball court.
Sound quality-wise, these are decent but cannot compare to one of the over-ear models. They are good enough for listening to music while warming up, though, and often have surprisingly good lows and highs. They are super lightweight and very durable. Water resistance is fairly common nowadays, as well as decent flexibility and impact resistance. Price-wise they stand between over-ear and in-ear models and are usually in the 100-300$ range.
Finally, let’s talk about in-ear headphones because they really are some of the most common sports headphones out there. The main reason for their popularity is their compact nature and minimalist design. A few years ago, wireless in-ear headphones were connected by a cable and were still not truly “wireless”. Nowadays, however, most of them come in the form of two separate headphones that you plug into your ears. That makes them extremely easy to wear when you’re playing spots, especially thanks to their ergonomic designs that help them stay in your ear even during intense workouts and basketball games.
As with the other types, these too have active noise cancellation. However, thanks to the fact that they literally block your ear canal, they also have passive noise cancellation too. That makes them great for busy basketball courts where you want to be left alone with your thoughts or just walking to work on a busy street. They have great bass, crisp mids, and highs and can typically get quite loud, which is also a potential downside. Almost all in-ear headphones are waterproof and dustproof and can take a hit even if you drop them. Battery-wise, they are on par with the other two types and usually last up to around 30 hours per charge. They often come with a case, though, which can charge them 1-3 times more, making them far more reliable than the others. Also, if you’re on a budget, these will typically cost you the least.
Now, let’s talk a little bit more about all the features that you will have to consider when buying your first pair of basketball headphones…
Features to Look For
As with all other headphones out there, there are plenty of things you have to keep in mind when buying a new pair. However, since this is a sports pair of headphones, you will also have to look at a few different aspects. One example of that is knowing what the IP rating of the headphones is or can they handle rapid movements and sudden changes in direction. All that will depend on their fit and build quality. Here is a list of all the features that we will now go through:
- Sound Quality
- Build Quality & Durability
- Battery Life
- IP Rating
- Price & Warranty
The type of headphones is as important as everything else you consider in a pair of headphones. If you’re on an extremely tight budget, you are fairly limited in your choice only to wired headphones or wireless in-ear models. These won’t have as good of sound quality but will be fairly durable and will do the job. Over-ear wireless headphones will set you back the most but are going to be quite comfortable. However, they are bulky and might make your head sweat more during a longer warm-up. One of the best options when it comes to price-per-value and sound quality is on-ear headphones. These are minimalistic in their design, work well, and are often durable enough for basketball. Most of them have a decent battery life so you won’t have to worry about them going dead on you in the middle of a basketball session.
The sound quality of most headphones depends on two features – their speaker size and the Ohms. While this isn’t very applicable to in-ear headphones that have tiny speakers, it is a good way to compare sound quality for over-ear and on-ear models. In-ear headphones usually rely on their sound calibration in order to sound good. This is also valid for the bigger headphones. In general, smaller headphones, especially the models used for playing basketball or training, have higher bass levels. Bigger headphones, on the other hand, are much more balanced due to the nature of their speakers.
Some brands still emphasize on studio-levels of sound quality but others prefer having a signature sound that people will go after. A good example of that is Beats which, as a brand, focuses more on bass levels. JBL and Sony, on the other hand, prefer a much more level-headed approach, delivering good sounds across the sound band.
If you’re going for on-ear and over-ear headphones, another factor that will impact the sound quality is whether they are open-back or closed-back. Open-back headphones will have nothing much a plastic/metal mesh on top of the speakers. This will allow some of their sound to “leak” out. This will create a more of an ambient experience when listening to music. These are usually designed so that you can hear external noises when listening to music and not have the outside world completely blocked out. Some of the in-ear headphones such as Apple’s AirPods have active noise enhancement features that simulate that type of sound performance.
When it comes to comfort, in-ear headphones reign supreme. They will never drop from your head, will have consistent performance, and won’t make your head sweat from the contact with the on-ear and over-ear pads. However, some people don’t like the feeling of an in-ear headphone staying in your ear canal for hours at a time. This can cause irritation, itching, fungal infections, and other issues related to your ear canal and hearing. This is why on-ear headphones became quite popular in the last 5 years. This is because they offer a medium ground between the bulkiness of over-ear models and the somewhat irritating feel of in-ear models. Most on-ear headphones will have silicone pads that will have the same level of comfort as a memory foam pillow. They follow the shape of your head and ear nicely with a minimal amount of compression so that they stay in place.
Companies nowadays also invest a lot in breathable materials for their ear pads. This will provide the ultimate comfort without making you sweat more than usual. In conclusion, in-ear headphones offer the most amount of freedom and performance, while on-ear is an ideal alternative for anyone that dislikes the feeling of headphones inserted in his or her ear canal. Some people even like to play ball with over-ear headphones but these are typically very bulky, heavy, and have a high chance of dropping from your head if you’re moving too much.
Build Quality & Durability
The build quality of your new headphones will be directly related to their price. The more expensive a pair of basketball headphones are, the more durable they will be. One of the major aspects of durability is how flexible the headphones are. Since they will be handled on a daily basis, they need to be sturdy yet flexible enough to not snap if you bend them accidentally. This is why most headphones’ frames are very flexible and almost impossible to break or snap. The build quality also translates to the ear pads and the plastic on top of the speakers.
One of the most important factors when it comes to the build quality and durability, however, is the IP rating. This rating is in direct relation to how well the headphones are built and how well they perform under sub-par conditions. I will discuss it in further detail a little bit further down the article.
The battery life of any pair of headphones is one of its main determining factors whether it is good for outdoor activity or not. Most models nowadays will have a battery life of around 25-30 hours. Anything below that is truly bad and should be avoided unless it’s on a budget pair. Headphones with a battery life above 30 hours are still quite rare and are truly great for outdoor basketball, as you won’t have the battery anxiety you do with other models.
Some in-ear headphones will have a combined battery life of much over 30 hours. That is because the manufacturers will count the battery of the headphones’ case in the total number. That way, a 10-hour battery on the headphones, combined with the option to charge them 3 more times from the case, gives you a total of 40 hours of battery life.
The connectivity of your headphones is defined by their Bluetooth or cable connection. Most cheaper or high-tech headphones will have a 3.5mm cable jack in order to connect to your device. However, newer models designed for training have wireless connection capacity. The difference between different models is the Bluetooth version they use. Some headphones still use the older Bluetooth 3.0, while newer models have Bluetooth 4.0 and up. This allows them to have a better connection at longer distances, as well as better signal quality. All that translates into an extended connectivity range and better audio quality.
The headphones’ connectivity will also play a role in additional features such as taking calls and receiving notifications directly into your headphones. The more expensive models typically give you full control over your phone’s functions and vice versa. Some even have dedicated apps that allow you to fully customize your experience when it comes to connecting them to your smartphone. Another advantage of almost all premium headphones is their better-quality microphones. These will allow you to take calls and have a crystal clear outgoing and incoming quality during the call.
One of the biggest advantages of brands like Beats is that they work natively with Apple’s ecosystem of devices. Most importantly, that includes iPhones, iPods, and Apple Watches. The ultra-fast connectivity and reliable connection are done thanks to the W1 chip inside all-new Beats headphones. This makes also allows them to take calls, skip different songs, control the volume, and use Siri through the on-ear controls on headphones such as the Beats Studio 3. Apple’s own headphones are also equipped with this chip, allowing them to seamlessly pair with your Apple devices. The newest Beats headphones also allow for a better connection with Android devices, just like the way they pair with Apple’s own. If you’re using an Android phone, you can also download the Beats app and control the headphones’ features from there.
In terms of portability, in-ear headphones truly dominate the field. In short, if you want something that you can put in your pocket and go out to play basketball, these are the clear winners. Most in-ear headphones have a wireless charging case that can hold and protect them when you’re not using them. And while these were a bit bulky a few years ago, nowadays both the headphones and the charging cases have become quite minimal in terms of their size.
On-ear and over-ear headphones have also worked on their portability and size over the years. Nowadays, they can fold and pack in a pouch or box just as easily as you would carry any other small item. Thanks to an improvement in material quality, they’ve also become lighter, which makes them even easier to carry around and wear on your head. Still, the most portable option by far remains the in-ear pair of headphones.
When looking for a pair of headphones for sports or any other type of outdoor activity, you need to pay special attention to their IP rating. Ip ratings are meant to describe the headphones’ resistance to water and dust. The first digit represents the resistance to dust, while the second gives you the waterproofing rating. That way, a pair of headphones with an IP rating of IP68 gives you a 6 dustproof rating and 8 waterproofing. IP68 is one of the most common IP ratings, which is why I am giving it as an example. It will give you plenty of protection for your headphones, and can even mean that you can drop the headphones in water without damaging them. One of the issues with higher IP ratings is that they bulk up the price. The main reason for that is all the testing the company is required to do in order to certify them at that rating. This is why some manufacturers are notoriously known for not having an IP rating but still being quite resistant to dust and water (OnePlus).
Price & Warranty
Last but definitely not least on this list is the headphone’s price and the warranty that it comes with. If you’re on a tight budget, there are quite a lot of cheaper waterproof in-ear models that are in the 20-100$ range. However, if you want to get the best of the best, you will most likely have to prepare more than 300-400 dollars. That being said, the more expensive headphones will have superb sound quality, great durability, and will also be super comfortable. They will also have other features including ANC (active noise cancellation), smartphone controls, notifications, and more.
Warranty-wise, as with most other tech products out there, most headphones will get a full 2-year warranty. This is the industry’s standard nowadays and anything more than that is definitely worth checking out.
What Headphones do Some Pro Basketball Players Use?
If you haven’t completely made up your mind on a particular set of headphones, you can follow your idols in this sport. Most professional players prefer wearing headphones, whether it is because of an endorsement or simply because they like them. Here are some of the most famous basketball players and their headphones of choice:
- Lebron James – Lebron James is one of the most famous Beats (by Dre) endorsers out there. He was one of the first players to endorse the brand and has been a front figure ever since. He is known for wearing multiple models from the brand on and off the basketball court.
- Luka Doncic – Luka Doncic wears his Bose QuietComfort 35 (Gen-2) wireless headphones on the court. They deliver superb sound quality mixed with great noise cancellation features as well as noise enhancement ones. They are also quite durable which is important for a pair of basketball headphones.
- Steph Curry – Steph Curry is known to sport his JBL Live 650 BTNCs both on and off the court. They are known for their incredible noise cancellation and also have pretty good battery life and water resistance.
- Kevin Durant – Just like Lebron James, Kevin Durant is known for wearing most Beats models everywhere he goes. The Powerbeats 3 are some of his favorite headphones, however.
- James Harden – James Harden is also a Powerbeats fan, always wearing the newest version from that line of products!
Other players like Damian Lillard, and Blake Griffin also endorse brands like JBL and Beats, both of which are fighting to win the top spot in the basketball world.
If you also want to learn more about basketball shoes and what the differences are between indoor and outdoor models, click here! Now, let’s answer a few other important questions regarding this topic…
Frequently Asked Questions
What headphones do famous basketball players use?
Some of the most common headphones we see on the basketball court are the JBL Everest Elite 300 and the Beats Studio3. Some players also prefer the Sony WH series due to their noise-canceling features when they’re practicing alone. One of the biggest debates in the world of basketball, however, is on-ear or in-ear. Simply put, if you want a more dynamic headphone that won’t fall off easily (or at all), go for in-ear. If you want a more casual pair of headphones, go for on-ear or over-ear.
Should you wear headphones when playing ball?
Yes, in fact, even most professional players prefer to have their music on even before they go out on the court. Then, they still have them for their warm-up until the game starts. Some street games even allow headphones to be worn during the actual game. However, you will find that over-ear or on-ear headphones are far too susceptible to damage or falling off in a full-contact street game. That is the reason most people prefer wearing in-ear models when playing outdoors.
Are Apple AirPods good for basketball?
Apple’s own headphones are especially good for basketball, at least their Pro version. The reason for that is because they have a great fit and are plenty comfortable in your ears. Moreover, they have both noise-canceling and noise-enhancing features, depending on what you prefer. When they are paired with your iPhone, they can also work with your apple watch so that you leave the phone on the sidelines.
Getting the best headphones for basketball is not going to be easy. The main reason for that is because there are countless models out on the market currently and each professional player seems to be endorsing different brands. The key thing is to be able to filter through the endorsement deals and figure out which headphones are really meant to be played with. If you are a dynamic player, start by narrowing your search down to in-ear headphones. These will stay in your ears and are almost always water-resistant, making them great for indoor and outdoor sports!